Monday, February 22, 2010

THE GIFT OF LISTENING



“WHAT PEOPLE NEED IS A GOOD LISTENING TO!” ~ Mary Lou Casey

To perceive with the ear is to hear. To pay attention is to listen. Noises, sounds, and words assault our ears every day. In an act of self-defense we often tune out. It is common for us to be “virtually distracted” by our iPhones and Blackberries while others speak to us. Isolation is our safe place.

But everyone needs someone to listen, not just hear him or her.

I believe the highest form of respect is to listen to others. Not for the purpose of formulating what we are going to say as soon as they are finished. When we are listening to someone we need to be there with him or her. Not making a mental list of things we are going to do as soon as we are finished talking.

My friend, Cozy Dixon, taught me about “deep listening.” It is a practice where you discipline your mind to be totally focused on the person with whom you are speaking. Watch their facial expressions; listen to the changes in their voice tone. Hear what they are really saying and sometimes we pick up more than their words. This should be done without offering our two-cents worth of unsolicited advice.

In our world of “talking heads” people need us to make eye-contact with them and listen. By doing that we are conveying this message:

“You are valuable, you are worth my time, you are important.”

Don’t we all need that message?

Monday, February 15, 2010

CONTENTMENT


“Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of how much you already have.” ~ Author Unknown

I believe there are things that we should never be content with, such as personal growth and seeking ways to improve the well being of others. But for me it stops there.

Contentment with gratitude is the recipe for peace, and strong relationships. I’m not saying that it is wrong to be ambitious or to seek success, however, if that “reach” into the future is robbing you and those you love of today, of the present, then it becomes a problem.

Erma Bombeck quipped once about the ladies who were concerned about their figures and turned down desert their last night on the Titanic. No one knew, nor did they imagine it possible, that the majority of the passengers aboard would drown that night.

We only have the guarantee of the second we are living in. And when we are gone, those most important to us will only have memories of the time we spent with them. Were you “being” with them in mind as well as in body? Or were you striving for the future? We tell ourselves we are doing it for them, but if death comes knocking at our door, then we have actually robbed them of precious moments with us.

I used to be discontent with my home when my children were small. All my friends were in nice new homes. I’m sure my self-pity and envy hung heavy on my family. However, one day I read about contentment with gratitude and it rang true to me. From that day on my children didn’t hear me sigh or complain. I made it our “nest.” A few years later we did build a new home. In fact, we have built several. But now, when our children and their families all gather in our home some forty years later, the only home they reminisce about is the old house in Sonora.

Are you discontent with your stuff? With your job? With life? I encourage you to make a list of all the things you are discontent with and then beside them write something you should be grateful about. For instance, if “job” is on your discontent side, write beside it, “at least I have one.”

Contentment with gratitude is the best gift you can give your family, friends, and yourself.



Monday, February 08, 2010

TAKING STEPS

“What is not started today is never finished tomorrow.”Johann Wolfgang von Goethe quote

It is believed that the Grand Canyon was created by the Colorado River over the span of millions of years. Wow. The consistent flow of water cut through layers of rock forming the beautiful wonder we admire today. 

Most of us have a dream, a goal, a plan or something we know we are supposed to do. But for some reason starting it is daunting. In order to avoid starting we fill our time with other things. If I’m facing a chapter in my book that isn’t going well, I’ll go so far as to clean out the refrigerator. That is desperate avoidance! 

It took millions of years for water to cut the rock. We don’t have that long. But we do have time to take that first step. It may be a baby step, but if taken every day, you WILL arrive. 
I write every day, even if it is a page. The habit of consistency gets me to the end of my book. 

What about you? Are putting off starting something you know you need and or want to do? I spoke with a 50 something lady who want to go to college. She shrugged her shoulders and said, “Silly, huh. An old woman like me?” I asked her, “Are you planning on dying in the next five years?” She looked at me funny. I don’t blame her. But I explained that the next five years will most likely come and she would either have a diploma or she wouldn’t. 

What’s there to lose? 

Do you need to start taking care of your health? Restore a relationship? Get special training? Go for that job? Start that project? 

What ever it is, take that first step and consistently take a step (or two, ten, twenty, two-hundred) every day.